Bill would log all Mainers’ prescriptions into state database, “violation of privacy” says physician’s group

State Rep. Patty Hymanson (D – York) is the sponsor of L.D. 2117

AUGUSTA – A proposal that would require all dispensers of prescription drugs to enter the private information of any patient in Maine into a state run database is drawing fire from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons as an “egregious violation of patients’ privacy” and a “massive overreach of government.”

The bill, sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Patricia Hymanson of York would require any dispenser of prescription drugs in Maine “to report all prescription drugs dispensed intended for human consumption” and to create a system through which “pharmacists and all prescribers” could “obtain complete record of all medication prescribed to a patient, identifying the prescriber for each drug and listing the dates on which each prescription was filled.”

The AAPS, in a bulletin to their membership, called the proposal an egregious violation of the privacy of patients and a massive overreach of government. They also say that the purported goal of the bill, to improve patient safety, should be accomplished “without violating the rights of the citizens of Maine.”

The bill essentially would convert the state’s current system that monitors prescriptions classified as controlled substances into a full-scale monitoring system for any prescriptions filled in the state of Maine.

The purported goal of the proposal is to reduce instances of adverse drug reactions due to incompatible drug reactions or overprescribing of medications.

Privacy concerns abound in the proposal. The idea of anyone working in a pharmacy or health care office across the state being able to access the full prescription record of any Mainer who has filled a prescription appeared to cause the AAPS bulletin to go viral this week. News of the bill comes at a time when medical freedom and privacy are a hot, and sensitive topic.

Along with prescription history of Maine patients, other data that would be available in the database includes the patient name, address, identification number, date of birth, dosage, history, and several drug specific records and identifiers.

Because some prescriptions are for medicines that treat a specific condition, allowing full access to such a broad set of data in a state database is tantamount to logging private information about specific patient medical conditions into a state database accessible outside the specific provider(s) a patient sees.

Others are concerned that the storage of private prescription data could be used by the federal or state government if harsh “red flag” gun confiscation laws are passed in the future and governments. The access points of the database would also open the door for tens of thousands of individuals and state officials to have access to, eventually, the long prescription drug history of every Mainer. In New York from March 2013 through October 2014, tens of thousands of residents were placed on so-called “no gun lists”, mostly because their prescription drug history included anti-anxiety or anti-depression medicines. That list was the result of legislation passed by the New York State Assembly.

Rep. Patty Hymanson, who is the primary sponsor of the bill, is probably best known for her successful sponsorship of Maine’s controversial physician assisted suicide or “Death with Dignity” bill, which narrowly became law last year.  

The non-profit Maine People Before Politics also issued an alert on L.D. 2117, warning that a “long list of people would be able to access your private prescription information.” MPBP calls the bill a “wasteful, unnecessary expansion of state government and a MASSIVE invasion of personal and medical privacy.”

L.D. 2117 will have a public hearing on Tuesday, March 10th at 1pm before the Legislature’s Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services. The public hearing will be held in Room 209 of the Cross Building in Augusta.

Other lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors of L.D. 2117 are: Senator Ned Claxton (D- AUBURN); Senator Geoff Gratwick (D – BANGOR) and Senator Linda Sanborn (D – GORHAM).

Read the bulletin from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons below:

Read the full text of the bill here:

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